If you plan to manufacture and sell apparel products in the United States, there are mandatory label laws that all brands, big and small, must comply with. Don’t get caught off guard (or worse with a fine), and do your research before you begin manufacturing your line.
Information Requirements: For most garments, there are 4 primary label requirements: fiber content, country of origin, identification of the manufacturer, and care instructions.
- Fiber Content: All garments covered under the “Textile or Wool Act and Rules” must be labeled to show fiber content. An example is “100% Cotton” or “50% Polyester, 50% Cotton.” Typically, the generic name of the fiber must be used. For a list of the generic names of fabrics allowed, visit this link at the FTC website. Frequently the fiber content information is placed on the same label as the Identification of Manufacturer information and the care instructions. There is no mandated placement of this information, as long as its “conspicuous and reasily accessible.” For most garments, you can find this along one of the side seams.
- Country of Origin: All products covered by the Textile and Wool acts must be labeled to show the country of origin. For products completely manufactured in overseas this is pretty easy, however where most brands get snagged is when items are manufactured in the United States. To have a “Made in the USA” label, the item must be manufactured in the United States, as well as all of the materials used to make the item. If the fabric is used from a foreign mill, your label must state “Made in the USA of Imported Materials.” This is the only label that has a mandated location. For all products with a neck, the label must be placed on the inside of the center neck. However for products that do not have a neck, there is no mandated placement as long as it’s conspicuous and readily accessible.
- Identification of Manufacturer or Importer: For brands manufacturing overseas, they have 2 options to fulfill this requirement. They may either use their company name or list their RN number. For the company name, this must be the legal name under which the company does business (so the business on your bank account or under which you’re legally doing business under). The other option to use an RN number, which you can easily register for at the FTC website. Frequently this information is placed on the same label as the Fiber content and the care instructions. There is no mandated placement of this information, as long as its “conspicuous and readily accessible.” For most garments, you can find this along one of the side seams.
- Care Instruction: Lastly, each garment must have the care instructions permanently affixed to the garment (either through printing or with a label). Typically care instructions have a combination of both text plus common symbols to represent the care instructions. Frequently this information is placed on the same label as the Fiber content and Manufacturer information. There is no mandated placement of this information, as long as its “conspicuous and readily accessible.” For most garments, you can find this along one of the side seams.
Just a reminder to our readers – this is just an overview of what’s typical. Every brand needs to visit the Federal Trade Commision's summary for a more detailed look at all the requirements you’re legally responsible for given the product you're manufacturing.